Victoria Police are calling on all road users to change their driving behaviour in a new campaign focusing on heavy vehicle road safety.
Dubbed Operation Austrans, the campaign follows a study which showed that 65 percent of last year's 48 fatal collisions involving heavy vehicles were not the fault of the heavy vehicle operator.
The 48 collisions resulted in 56 deaths, including four double fatalities and two triple fatalities.
"We know that when a heavy vehicle is involved in a road collision, chances are the outcome is not going to be good," Road Policing Superintendent Neville Taylor said.
"These machines can weigh up to 65 tonnes, and when they collide with a motorcycle or small car, you know who is going to come off second best."
"Our research shows that other road users are not being vigilant enough around heavy vehicles."
Of the 56 people killed in heavy vehicle-related collisions last year:
- Seven were heavy vehicle drivers (12 percent)
- Three were passengers in heavy vehicles (5 percent)
- 22 drivers of other vehicles (39 percent)
- Nine were passengers in other vehicles (16 percent)
- Five were bicyclists (9 percent)
- Five were motorcyclists (9 percent)
- Five were pedestrians (9 percent).
Victoria Police has offered the following guide for avoiding a dangerous encounter with a heavy vehicle.
- Never cut in front of a truck - they simply don't have the same braking ability as cars.
- Don't linger alongside a heavy vehicle to ensure you are visible to the driver and not in a blind spot.
- Only change lanes when you can see both of the truck's headlights in your rearview mirror.
- Always endeavour to leave a safe gap when traveling behind heavy vehicles - about a three second gap when traveling over 80km/hr is a good guide.
- Check the truck's mirrors - if you can't see the driver - they can't see you.
"This operation will target fatigue, speeding, drug use and unroadworthy vehicle offences within the heavy vehicle industry as a way of making the state's highways safer for all road users," Supt Taylor said.
"Police from the State Highway Patrol, including all members of the Heavy Vehicle Unit, and the Road Policing Drug and Alcohol Section will all take part in the operation - as well as highway patrol units across regional Victoria."
Victoria's road toll currently stands at 102 - up from 95 for the same period in 2010.